The final seven episodes of AMC’s Mad Men have felt noticeably … well, “business as usual,” and very little like we’ve come to expect from a landmark series with so few hours left. Now, last night’s “Time & Life” finally got down to finale business, bringing us some major change that points toward the series finale, and killing off a series-long name to do it.

You’re warned of all the spoilers from last night’s Mad Men from here on out, but once again ladies and gentlemen: Sterling-Cooper is no more. It started out innocently enough, with Roger learning that the lease on their fabulous offices hadn’t been paid, only for a little detective work to reveal that corporate overlords at McCann-Erickson intended to absorb their new purchase, offices and all. That might have brightened a few faces lucky enough to make the transition, but the four-year non-compete clauses for Don, Roger, Pete, Ted and Joan made the news something of a jail sentence.

Of course, leave it to Don to turn disaster into an opportunity, as the group valiantly concocted a plan that would see Sterling-Cooper West remaining open as a subsidiary, enabling everyone to keep business that would be lost to the merger in conflict. For a few minutes there, it seemed like Mad Men had a shot of moving to California for its series finale, but, well, to put it in terms Ken Cosgrove was happy to deliver to Pete and Roger:


-Ken Cosgrove

To their credit, the fivesome managed to cobble together enough business to replace Ken’s Dow Chemical account, though McCann’s Jim Hobart stopped Don only a few sentences into their presentation. Accounts would be lost, but McCann remained firm in dissolving Sterling-Cooper for good, inviting the five to see the transition as “passing the test,” and finally getting a chance to play with big boys like Coca-Cola, Nabisco, or pharmaceuticals. Still, Sterling-Cooper is dead. Bert Cooper is actually dead. Long live them both.

So where was the rest of the office in a time of such crisis? With the merger kept under the mat as long as possible, Peggy and Stan worked to cast a young child for their commercial, Peggy proving her usual level of uncomfortable around children. Perhaps it was the tender moment with Pete in his office earlier, or the sight of a young girl left behind being neglected by her mother, but Peggy broke down and revealed to Stan that she’d once given up her son for adoption. On the plus side at least, were there any to be had after all that, Peggy’s head-hunter assured her to stick with the McCann transition, potentially quadrupling her salary in a few years’ time.

There are no sunny skies ahead for Sterling-Cooper West (unless you’re Lou Avery, moving to Japan to oversee animation on Scout’s Honor), but hey, the gang could certainly be worse off. Financial futures are secure, and Pete even got to punch a guy, who’d denied Tammy school admission over a 300-year old family feud. We’ll certainly miss those bright and cheery Sterling-Cooper offices, but who knows? Maybe the final three hours will see Don or Roger coming up with yet another brilliant plan.

For now, our dreams of a Mad Men West spinoff have been canceled. We hardly knew ye.